Archive for the ‘Christo-Fascism’ Category
23 September 2009
GAY HUMANISTS CALL FOR STRONG PROTEST WHEN POPE VISITS UK
The gay Humanist charity the Pink Triangle Trust (PTT) has called for a strong protest to be made when Pope Benedict XVI visits the UK early next year.
The PTT’s secretary George Broadhead said: “This pope has shown himself to be paranoid about homosexuality. His opposition to LGBT rights knows no bounds. In his Christmas message last year he declared that saving humanity from homosexual behaviour was as important as saving the rainforest from destruction. This must be the most outrageous and bizarre claim yet made by someone who has already got a well-deserved reputation as one of the most viciously homophobic world leaders on a par with Mahmoud Ahmadinejad of Iran and Robert Mugabe of Zimbabwe. The Vatican reinforced its anti-gay reputation by strongly opposing a UN declaration calling for an end to discrimination against gays and the Pope’s Christmas messsage provided clear evidence of an obsession about homosexuality which is tantamount to paranoia.
“It is imperative that the strongest possible protest be made when he visits the UK next year”, continued Mr Broadhead. “This is not without precedent. During the last papal visit to the UK by John Paul I in 1982, a protest
called POPE (People Opposing Papal Edicts) was instigated by the Gay Humanist Group of which I was a founder member. It had the support of other gay and secular organisations including the Campaign for Homosexuality and the National Secular Society. On the occasion of the next papal vist we must pull out all the stops to demonstrate our opposition.”
The Pink Triangle Trust, 34 Spring Lane, Kenilworth, Warwickshire CV8 2HB
44 (0)1926 858450
Gay & Lesbian Humanist magazine:
Note for Editors
The Pink Triangle Trust is the only gay humanist charity and the only organisation worldwide publishing an online magazine (Gay & Lesbian Humanist) for lesbian and gay atheists, freethinkers and Humanists. The trust is named after the pink triangle that lesbians and gay men had to wear in the Nazi concentration camps. This registered charity (number 1015629) was set up in 1992 to advance the education of the public and particularly of lesbians and gay men, in the principles and practice of Humanism and to advance the education of the public, and particularly of Humanists, about all aspects of homosexuality.
See Also No Vat : http://www.facciamobreccia.org/
A conference in Uganda which begins today has been condemned by human rights groups.
The 3-day seminar in Kampala, which opens today, features several American speakers known for their efforts to dehumanise LGBT people and for their belief that homosexuality can be “cured.”
The speakers include Scott Lively, Don Schmierer, and Caleb Lee Brundidge—leading voices in the crusade by religious extremists to roll back basic human rights for LGBT people in the United States.
IGLHRC said that Brundidge is affiliated with Extreme Prophetic Ministry in Phoenix, Arizona. Schmierer is on the board of the so-called “ex-gay” organization Exodus International. Lively is well known for his belief that the Nazi Holocaust never happened.
“The American religious right is finally showing its hand and revealing the depth of its support for homophobia in Africa,” said IGLHRC‘s Executive Director Cary Alan Johnson.
Protests this weekend will call for an end to the Vatican’s privileges and its undermining of human rights
guardian.co.uk, Friday 13 February 2009 19.30 GMT
The Vatican should stop meddling in politics and misusing its power to oppose human rights. Just as importantly, it is time the Italian government ceased kow-towing to the pope’s theocratic agenda. All of Europe should be secular, where people are free to practise their faith but where no religion has privileged legal status and unique access to political power and influence.
These are the demands of protesters, backed by the British Humanist Association, who will assemble in London this Saturday afternoon in support of a simultaneous protest taking place in Rome against the Vatican’s manipulation of Italian, European and worldwide politics.
In celebration of Charles Darwin’s debunking of the Biblical idea that the world was made by God in six days, the protesters will meet at the Natural History Museum. It is hosting the biggest-ever Charles Darwin exhibition to commemorate the 200th anniversary of his birth and the 150th anniversary of his book, On the Origin of Species. His theory of evolution was long rejected and denounced by successive popes.
Undeterred by church hostility, Darwin made his view of religion very clear: “Man in his arrogance thinks himself a great work, worthy the interposition of a deity … it is more humble and I believe truer to consider him created from animals.”
From the Natural History Museum, the marchers will go to the Italian Embassy to demand that the Italian government curb its favouritism and appeasement of the Vatican. The Italian parliament too often allows itself to be bullied by the Vatican, resulting in it dumping legislation for same-sex civil unions and sex education in schools.
The Catholic church in Italy is a huge corporate business empire. It owns hotels, restaurants, shops and private schools but it does not pay tax. On the contrary, it is subsidised by the Italian taxpayer, with about four billion euros in public money being given to the Vatican every year.
Saturday’s protest organisers, Marco Tranchino and Serena Bassi, describe the Vatican as a “tiny statelet inhabited almost entirely by priests, with a disproportionate and malign influence on Italian and global politics”.
Officially part of the United Nations, the Vatican’s observer state status means it intervenes in UN debates on a variety of issues, including old-time favourites, such as birth control, abortion and homosexuality. No other faith has this privileged status, access and influence at the UN.
The Vatican maintains diplomatic relationships with nearly every nation in the world. In most EU countries it benefits from the support of Catholic politicians and in many cases its policies are advocated by political parties like the Christian Democrats and their successors and allies. The Vatican does not shrink from using threats and intimidation to enforce its will. To keep Catholic MPs in line with papal policy opposing gay equality, for example, the Vatican has threatened to excommunicate any Catholic legislator who votes for same-sex civil unions.
Of the 27 countries in the European Union, 14 are bound to the Vatican by at least one treaty. No other religion has such state-level power and connections, either in Europe or the wider world.
The pope has made sure that the proposed EU Constitution – and now the Lisbon Treaty (article 16c) – commits the European Union to “an open, transparent and regular dialogue with churches and religious organisations”. No other non-governmental organisation is afforded such dialogue – not trade unions, not human rights groups and not bodies representing the rights and welfare of women, black or disabled people.
Within Britain, the Catholic church has lobbied hard to restrict women’s reproductive rights, in particular access to contraception, abortion and fertility treatment. It has led the opposition to medical advance by means of embryo and stem cell research. With increasing numbers of state-funded faith schools (1 in 3 of all schools in the UK are either Catholic or Church of England), the Vatican continues to exercise a strong and biased influence on hundreds of thousands of young people.
The pope encourages us to view women as inferior to men by barring them from the priesthood and by consistently stating that the two genders are naturally different and that women are biologically inclined for a more mothering and domestic role in life. In many Catholic countries, women who have had a divorce or abortion, and women who are living as single parents, suffer religious-inspired stigma and discrimination. In some Catholic countries, like Ireland and Poland, abortion is illegal. In others, like Italy, abortion rights are under constant threat from the Vatican’s pressure on the government.
To the delight of homophobes everywhere, the pope propagandises that being gay is an “objective disorder”, “grave depravity” and a “tendency towards an intrinsic moral evil”. In 1992, the Vatican officially rejected the concept of lesbian and gay “human rights”, asserting that there is “no right” to homosexuality. It added that the civil liberties of homosexuals can be “legitimately limited”. While condemning “unjust” discrimination, the Catholic leadership declared that some forms of anti-gay discrimination are “not unjust” and may even be “obligatory”.
In around 80 countries male homosexuality is still illegal, with penalties ranging up to life imprisonment and even death by execution. Last December, a proposal to decriminalise homosexuality and protect gay people against discrimination was opposed by the Vatican in the UN and by fellow religious bigots in the Organisation of Islamic States.
In contrast, if Catholics suffer discrimination I will be the first to defend them. Equally, when the pope supports discrimination against women and gay people I will be the first to oppose him. That is the difference between me and the pope. I reject all discrimination, including against Catholics. He supports sexist and homophobic discrimination whenever it suits his intolerant interpretation of the Christian faith. That is why the Vatican must be opposed and why I will be joining Saturday’s march in London.
No to Vatican. Protest Saturday 14 February 2009. Assemble at 2pm outside the Natural History Museum, Cromwell Road, London SW7 5BD (near the corner with Exhibition Road).
I was asked by the Dutch Foundation of Friends of the Gay Krant (SVGK) to distribute their appeal for an international campaign against the Pope. See their statement below – Peter Tatchell
Gay’s furious at Pope
BEST, NL – JANUARY 4th – The Foundation of Friends of the Gay Krant (SVGK) starts a global action against the gay discriminatory statements of Pope Benedict XVI. 90% of the readers of the Gay Krant wants the Dutch government to protest officially and call for the nuncius in The Hague.
Never before in such a short time there were so many angry phone calls, emails and letters on the desks of the editorial staff of Gay Krant. “On this first working day of the year we really were overwhelmed with responses, reports editor Henk Krol, worldwide initiator of opening up civil marriage.
Henk Krol: “The results of a survey under readers the last few days have been unlikely clear. 90% believe that the Dutch Minister of Foreign Affairs Maxime Verhagen should protest against the pope.
Together with France, the Netherlands launched a declaration at the United Nations against criminalization of homosexuality. The statement was signed by 66 countries.
In recent weeks the Vatican pushed a anti-gay ruling at the UN. The reason is obvious: the opening of the civil marriage as advocated by the SVGK. The Dutch initiative gets worldwide more and more following. Even on the website of the Roman Catholic church can be read: “The Pope fears that marriage between persons of the same sex can become a human right. That would mean that the church does not oppose the impunity of an open civil marriage. We have the freedom not to sin”, reports the website.
Especially the statement of the Netherlands and France to ban homosexuality as an criminal act, is way to far for the Vatican. That would not acknowledge any sexual orientation “and that would be ‘legal uncertainty’ cause, said the Pope’s UN envoy, Archbishop Celestino Migliore, last weekend against Radio Vaticana.
The church will never recognize ‘gay marriage’ warns Martino in the Vatican newspaper L’Osservatore Romano. Because the natural marriage between man and woman “is very different from the union of two persons of the same gender.
“From God we have received the precious gift of freedom. The freedom to choose whether or not to sin “, the President of the Papal Council Justitia et Pax said.
The UN declaration last month was called for by Minister Maxime Verhagen. He and his French colleague were supported by 66 of the 192 UN member states. 58 countries voted for a counter-declaration which was submitted by Egypt and Syria. They want the freedom to see homosexuality as a criminal act. The French-Dutch proposal was ready for vote in the General Assembly of the UN.
The Vatican is pleased that there is no majority for the statement.
The Holy See has said in many Member States have given support for its position.
A group of MEPs in the Euro parliament was already asked the pope to express in a more modest way.
The Dutch human rights activists Boris Dittrich of SVGK, who also works for Human Rights Watch in New York, and Henk Krol, the motor behind same sex marriage, are starting a worldwide campaign to increase the political role of the Vatican. They have seen with their own eyes how the Vatican lobbied for a UN declaration against gay rights. The text was dictated to Egypt by representatives of the pope. “Recognition of rights of homosexuals would inevitably lead to the legalization of pedophilia, incest and bestiality.”
The Foundation Friends of the Gay Krant, as initiators of opening up civil marriage, has contacted several gay organizations around the world.
Together they will discuss their further steps. They asl for a stop of the right of speech for the Vatican during the sessions of the UN. The Roman Catholic church is now the only religion with the right to speak in de UN-meeting. Neither the other Christian movements, nor Judaism, Islam or Buddhism, for example, have a right to speak. Only the pope has his direct influence in this forum in world politics.
Both Krol as Dittrich believe that statements such as: “Homosexuality is a serious threat to the survival of the human race, just as climate change” are not compatible.
According to SVGK now is the time that the world wakes up and diminish the role of the Vatican at the United Nations forum. “Stop the right to speak for representatives of the pope. Instead, an international inquiry into the complicity of the Vatican to discrimination against gay, women with complicated pregnancies and AIDS patients should be in place.”
All the best,
The Vatican refusal to sign the declaration before the UN that seeks to decriminalize homosexuality worldwide is true to form. In a recent ‘clarification’ the Vatican claims that while it has declined to sign-on, it condemns ‘unjust’ discrimination against homosexuals – without saying what exactly might constitute just discrimination.
By exempting itself from the list of states calling for decriminalization, the Vatican is in effect handing moral authority to those nations that are determined to keep homosexuals on the periphery of society, under fear of being persecuted for the ‘crime’ of gay orientation.
The two-faced position adopted by the Vatican is nothing new.
In a recent Guardian article, Peter Tatchell covers part of the Vatican’s abysmal track record on gay rights.
Unsurprisingly, the Vatican and the Organisation of Islamic States are leading the fight against the UN declaration. The opposition of the Pope is truly sickening, depraved and shameless.Of course, the Vatican has form. In 2004, it teamed up with Islamist dictatorships in the UN Commission on Human Rights to thwart a resolution sponsored by Brazil that opposed homophobic violence and discrimination. The Holy See is so viciously homophobic that it opposed the UN condemnation of the murder of lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender people.
Recently a sit-in was staged near St Peter’s Square to protest the Vatican’s position on the declaration. Protesters sat under the banners of Arcigay and Arcilesbica – the two main gay and lesbian advocacy groups in Italy.
The main thrust of the Vatican position hinges on UN envoy Migliore’s convoluted contention that signing the document might “pillory” countries where homosexuality is illegal and force them to create “new categories (gay people) protected from discrimination.” And this is a bad thing?
Of course the main concern is that ‘normalizing’ homosexuality might lead to same-sex unions. But this makes little sense. The social sanctions and taboos against same-sex marriage in countries where homosexuality is outlawed makes the Vatican’s stated concerns about same-sex marriage little more than a red herring. It is an excuse to avoid stepping up to the plate on this issue… a posture consistent with the Vatican’s homophobic agenda.
The Gay and Lesbian Humanist Association (GALHA) has condemned the Vatican’s opposition to a declaration against discrimination based on sexual orientation and gender identity.
The declaration, which is officially supported by the European Union, is due to be presented to the UN General Assembly later this month.
Monsignor Celestino Migliore, the Holy See’s permanent observer at the UN, claims the declaration could be used to force countries to recognise same-sex marriage.
“If adopted, they would create new and implacable discriminations,” he said.
“For example, states which do not recognise same-sex unions as ‘matrimony’ will be pilloried and made an object of pressure.”
More than 80 countries outlaw same-sex relations in all circumstances.
The maximum punishments range from a few years jail to life imprisonment.
In nine countries, or regions of countries, the mandatory punishment for homosexuality is death by execution.
There is no mention of same-sex marriage in the UN declaration. Only a handful of countries recognise gay and lesbian marriages, among them Canada, Belgium and South Africa.
GALHA’s secretary, David Christmas said the Vatican’s stance is ludicrous.
“The accusation that it is in some way discriminatory to attempt to counteract the prejudice and hatred which exists in over 80 countries that outlaw same sex relations, would appear to be yet another example of the Vatican turning logical thinking on its head,” he said.
The Vatican has backed their UN observer.
“It’s not for nothing that fewer than 50 member states of the United Nations have adhered to the proposal in question while more than 150 have not adhered. The Holy See is not alone,” a spokesman said.
Vatican’s anti-gay witch-hunt continues
The Pope’s plan for psychological tests to purge gay men from the priesthood is a new low.
By Peter Tatchell, human rights campaigner
The Vatican has announced the “psychological screening” of all new applicants for the priesthood, in a bid to weed out men who are deemed to be psychologically flawed. It has taken this initiative following the widespread sexual abuse of children by its clerics.
In a diversionary tactic to deflect attention from the child sex abuse scandal, one of the main aims of these psychological tests is to weed out gay men, not paedophiles.
The Vatican identifies homosexuality as a deep-seated personality disorder and psychological flaw; condemning same-sex acts as “grave sins,” “objectively disordered”, “intrinsically immoral” and “contrary to natural law.” Even men who have a gay orientation but abstain totally from sex are condemned by the Pope as possessing a “tendency towards an intrinsic moral evil.”
Accordingly, the Vatican’s Congregation for Catholic Education has issued a new document, Guidelines for the Use of Psychology in the Admission and Formation of Candidates for the Priesthood.
It proposes psychological tests to root out men with “deep-seated homosexual tendencies” from seminaries.
Estimates of the number of gay men in Catholic seminaries and the priesthood typically range from 25 percent to 50 percent, according to a review of research in the US by the Rev. Donald Cozzens, author of The Changing Face of the Priesthood. A similar proportion of priests is thought to be gay in the UK and Europe, including a number of bishops and cardinals.
The new Vatican document states that seminary candidates should undergo psychological evaluations whenever there is a suspicion of personality disturbances or doubts about their ability to live a celibate life, such as any manifestation of masculine weakness or a homosexual orientation.
When assessing a candidate’s ability to be celibate, the Vatican document insists that “it is not enough to be sure that he is capable of abstaining from genital activity” but that it is also necessary “to evaluate his sexual orientation”.
It advises that would-be priests must have “a positive and stable sense of their own masculine identity.”
Surely all this makes Pope Benedict himself a prime candidate for psychological testing and exclusion? After all, he wears a dress, loads of jewellery, Prada shoes and has a penchant for high church, high camp ritual and theatrics. While I don’t want to indulge in stereotypes, Benedict is not exactly macho. In fact, he’s quite effeminate. He is also surrounded exclusively by men, has an unusually young and handsome male private secretary and has no known close friendships with women.
He would not be the first gay Pope. There have been several others, most scandalously
Pope Julius III (1487 to 1555), who was more a pederast than a homosexual. He took a 13 year old boy as his
lover and made him a cardinal at the age of 17, showering him with such wealth that he became one of the richest men in Europe.
Anyway, I digress.
Commenting on the new Vatican document, Cardinal Grocholewski, prefect of the Congregation for Catholic Education, advises:
“The candidate does not necessarily have to practice homosexuality. He can even be without sin. But if he has this deeply seated tendency, he cannot be admitted to priestly ministry precisely because of the nature of the priesthood, in which a spiritual paternity is carried out. Here we are not talking about whether he commits sins, but whether this deeply rooted tendency remains…It’s not simply a question of observing celibacy as such. In this case, it would be (required for him to have) a heterosexual tendency, a normal tendency.”
This indicates a serious hardening of Vatican homophobia. It reverses the previous Catholic stance that only same sex acts are wrong, not the homosexual condition itself.
Cardinal Grocholewski elaborated:
“In a certain sense, when we ask why Christ reserved the priesthood to men, we speak of this spiritual paternity, and maintain that homosexuality is a type of deviation, a type of irregularity, as explained in two documents of the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith….Therefore it (same-sex love) is a type of wound in the exercise of the priesthood, in forming relations with others. And precisely for this reason we say that something isn’t right in the psyche of such a man. We don’t simply talk about the ability to abstain from these kinds of relations.”
The Vatican is recommending that the people who do the testing should have “solid human and spiritual maturity”, and a “Christian concept of the human person, sexuality, the priestly vocation and celibacy”. In other words, conformity to homophobic Catholic doctrine takes precedence over professional qualifications.
It is now revealed that the Catholic Church in England and Wales has jumped the gun. They have already introduced psychological tests for candidate priests.
Who conducts these tests? What are their qualifications? Have the tests been vetted and approved by a professional psychological authority? What is their scientific validity and reliability? Do they operate within a professional code of conduct? Is there sufficient protection for vulnerable applicants exposed to these procedures? Even if candidates consent to being tested, is that sufficient? These are questions the Catholic Church has not answered.
The Vatican’s new policy aimed at excluding gay men from the priesthood is bigoted and hypocritical. It will encourage dishonesty, fuel homophobia and lead to Vatican sex spies snooping on trainee priests.
If these rules had existed in the past, many existing archbishops and cardinals would have never been allowed to enter the priesthood. Given the high proportion of gay clergy in senior positions in the Vatican, this new policy is rank hypocrisy.
Instead of paving the way for witch-hunts and purges of gay seminarians, the Pope should concentrate on rooting out child sex abusers. Sadly, the fundamentalists in the Vatican have often chosen to protect paedophile priests, while hounding gay clergy.
PETER TATCHELL HUMAN RIGHTS FUND:
Donations are requested to help Peter Tatchell’s campaigns promoting human rights, democracy and global justice. Peter is unpaid and receives no grants. He depends on donations from friends and supporters. To download a donation form or a standing order mandate, go to Donations at: www.tatchellrightsfund.org
Remballe ton pape !
Communiqué de presse
Un regroupement d’associations, syndicats et organisations politiques appellent à manifester à Paris dans la soirée du vendredi 12 septembre pour dénoncer, a l’occasion de sa venue en France, les positions prises par le pape. Les signataires s’opposent à l’intervention de la religion catholique dans les affaires publiques et dénoncent l’écoute bienveillante des propos du Vatican par nombre de responsables politiques français.
Les signataires refusent les retours en arrière concernant les droits à l’avortement et à la contraception, dénoncent les appels criminels du pape à ne pas utiliser les préservatifs, défendent le droit de choisir son genre et sa sexualité. Elles réaffirment leur attachement à la solidarité et aux luttes sociales visant à accéder ici-bas à des vies décentes.
Les signataires exigent :
– que l’Eglise catholique cesse de s’immiscer pas dans la politique,
– que l’Eglise catholique cesse ses déclarations criminelles,
– que les gouvernements français mettent tout en place pour s’affranchir de l’idéologie catholique,
– le libre accès et la totale gratuité des moyens de contraception et de l’avortement.
La manifestation partira du métro Filles du Calvaire le vendredi 12 septembre à 18h30
Signataires : Marche Mondiale des Femmes (MMF), Panthères roses, Alternative libertaire (AL), Offensive libertaire et sociale (OLS), Scalp, Collectif National Droits des Femmes (CNDF), Ligue Communiste Révolutionnaire (LCR), Coordination des associations pour le droit à l’avortement et à la contraception (CADAC), Collectif libertaire de Bourges, Coordination des Collectif Unitaires pour une Alternative au Libéralisme de l’Hérault, Coordination Femmes Egalité, Scab (Suisse), Fédération Sud-PTT, Ligue du droit des femmes, Mouvement Français pour le planning familial (MFPF), Dones D’Enllac (Catalogne), Collectif de pratiques et de réflexions féministes “Ruptures”, Réseau féministes “Ruptures”, Act-Up – Paris, Mouvement contre le racisme et pour l’amitié entre les peuples (MRAP) – Marseille, Union Syndicale Solidaires, Association culturelle des travailleurs immigrés de Turquie (ACTIT), SOS sexisme, National Secular Society (Angleterre), Espoirs de femmes, Coordination égalité, Les Alternatifs, Mix-Cité – Paris, Jeunesses communistes révolutionnaires (JCR), Gauche Alternative 67, Initiative féministe européenne (IFE) – France, Les Amis de la Commune,
Lundi 8 septembre 2008
Gay rights activist Peter Tatchell has accused the Vatican of “shameful, dishonourable betrayal” after it decided to move the body of Britain’s most famous Catholic convert.
Cardinal Newman, who died in 1890, was buried alongside his close friend Ambrose St John.
There has been much speculation about the nature of the relationship between the two priests.
The Catholic Church claims the move is in preparation for Newman’s beatification, the third stage of recognition of sainthood.
His remains will be moved to a sarcophagus in Birmingham Oratory.
Peter Tatchell told The Independent:
“The Vatican’s decision to move Cardinal Newman’s body from its resting place is an act of grave robbery and religious desecration.
“It violates Newman’s repeated wish to be buried for eternity with his life-long partner Ambrose St John.
“They have been together for more than 100 years and the Vatican wants to disturb that peace to cover up the fact that Cardinal Newman loved a man.
“It’s shameful, dishonourable betrayal of Newman by the gay-hating Catholic Church.”
Writing at the time of St John’s death in 1875, Newman said:
“I have ever thought no bereavement was equal to that of a husband’s or a wife’s, but I feel it difficult to believe that any can be greater, or any one’s sorrow greater, than mine.”
Though Cardinal Newman was a lifelong celibate, and many scholars argue that his love for his fellow priest was merely Platonic, this move by the Catholic Church has fuelled speculation that they are embarrassed by the close nature of the friendship between the two men.
Cardinal Newman has to have one more miracle performed in his name before he can become a saint.
He was a pillar of the Oxford Movement, which tried to bring the Anglican church back to its Roman Catholic roots. After this failed he converted to Roman Catholicism.
Pope Benedict XVI was presented with pictures of Cardinal Newman during a private meeting with the Blair family in 2007.
Cherie Blair is reported to have said: “I believe you are very familiar with him and he is on the journey to sainthood.”
The Pontiff responded, “Yes, yes, although it is taking some time – miracles are hard to come by in Britain.”
Tony Blair converted to Catholicism in December last year, after he left office as Prime Minister.
The Westboro Baptist Church has declared its intention to protest at the funeral of actor Heath Ledger, who died yesterday. The statement from the church is reproduced below.
28-year-old Ledger was best-known for his Oscar-nominated performance in gay-themed cowboy movie Brokeback Mountain.
The Westboro Baptist Church, led by Fred Phelps, has generated publicity by protesting at the funerals of US service personnel killed in action.
They first came to prominence for picketing the funeral of murdered gay teen Matthew Shepard in 1998.
In a statement released today Mr Phelps announced his intention to picket Mr Ledger’s funeral and said:
“Heath Ledger thought it was great fun defying God Almighty and his plain word; to wit: God Hates Fags! & Fag Enablers!
“Ergo, God hates the sordid tacky, bucket of slime seasoned with vomit known as Brokeback Mountain – and He hates all persons having anything whatsoever to do with it.
“Heath Ledger is now in Hell, and has begun serving his eternal sentence there – beside which, nothingelse about Heath Ledger is relevant or consequential.”
It is as yet unknown if Mr Ledger will be laid to rest in his native Australia or in America.
While US laws regarding freedom of speech and assembly protects the Phelps’ and the tiny Westboro Baptist Church in their home country, it is unlikely that the Australian authorities would find their tactics acceptable.
Today Australia’s Prime Minister paid tribute to Mr Ledger:
“It is tragic that we have lost one of our nation’s finest actors in the prime of his life,” he said.
“Heath Ledger’s diverse and challenging roles will be remembered as some of the great performances by an Australian actor.”
Australian actors Mel Gibson, Cate Blanchett and Nicole Kidman also expressed their shock at the loss of such a considerable talent.
I had such great hope for him,” said Gibson, who cast Heath Ledger in The Patriot, said.
“He was just taking off and to lose his life at such a young age is a tragic loss. My thoughts and prayers are with him and his family.”
The Westboro Baptist church operates a website called GodHatesFags and have protested at over 100 funerals of soldiers killed in the line of duty in Iraq.
Their campaign, called “Thank God for Improvised Explosive Devices” involves protesters holding up signs and chanting slogans such as “God Hates Fags,” “America is Doomed” and “Thank God for Dead Soldiers” at the widows of the servicemen.